My Blog
Welcome to my blog!
Keywords | Title View | Refer to a Friend |
The Golden Age of Baseball in New York City
Posted:Jun 6, 2021 9:58 am
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

The most immortal baseball player in American history, George Herman "Babe" Ruth died of cancer on August , 1948. At his funeral service on August 19,
6000 friends, fans and former teammates packed St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Another 75,000 stood outside in the pouring rain, and more than
0,000 more lined the streets as his body was transported to the cemetery. When his casket was removed from St. Patrick's, former teammates served as
pallbearers. One of them, Joe Dugan, told another, Waite Hoyt, “I'd give a hundred dollars for a cold beer.” Hoyt replied, “So would the Babe."

The 1948 baseball season was winding down. Two months later, the Cleveland Indians would defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in 6 games to claim the World
Series title. The following season, an amazing string of consecutive years began during which at least one of the three teams from New York City would participate in the Series. A team from New York would win the World Series title 8 times over the next years, and of the 20 World Series slots would be filled by the 3 franchises. The Yankees would claim the title 6 times, and the New York Giants would claim one. Even the long suffering fans of the Brooklyn
Dodgers would be rewarded with the season they had dreamed of for more than half a century. But when that year reign of glory ended for New York
teams, the Dodgers would break their fans' hearts one more time; this time, forever.

In 1949, with two games left in the season, the New York Yankees trailed the Boston Red Sox by one game, with two games remaining in the season. The two teams would face each other in the final games. Boston needed only 1 win to claim the pennant. But the Yankees won both games and won the American League pennant.

Meanwhile, the same day the Yankees defeated Boston for the second time, Brooklyn scored 2 runs in the th inning to defeat Philadelphia 9-7. Combined with
a St. Louis victory over the Cubs, the Dodgers were on their way to the World Series to face the Yankees for the second time in 3 seasons. Much like the 47
series, the rookie year for Jackie Robinson, it would not be competitive. The Yankees claimed the World Series title in 5 games.
The Yankees would claim the title again in 1950 over the Philadelphia Phillies in 4 games. The following season, a rookie joined the
Yankees that was declared the heir apparent to the Yankees aging star, Joe DiMaggio. His name was Mickey Mantle. In the month of August, the New York Giants
found themselves trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers by and a half games. But the Giants went on a tear and at one point, won consecutive games. The Giants caught
the Dodgers with 2 games left in the season, and both teams won their final two games. That forced a 2 out of 3 game playoff between the Dodgers and
the Giants. The two teams split the first two games. In the deciding game 3, the Giants found themselves down by 2 runs in the 9th inning. They had runners on
second and third when Bobby Thompson came to the plate. Thompson hit the famous "shot heard round the world" home run to clinch the pennant for the Giants.
But in the World Series, the dominant Yankees defeated them in six games.
The Yankees would continue their dominance in both the '52 and '53 seasons. The Yankees defeated the Dodgers in 7 games in 1952, then again in 6 in 1953.
The '53 victory for the Yankees marked the 4th time in 7 years that they had defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. It also set a record for the
Yankees with 5 consecutive World Series titles, and their th overall, the most of any team in baseball.
In 1954, the Yankees would win a remarkable 3 games, but it wasn't enough to permit them to claim their 6th consecutive
American League Pennant. The Cleveland Indians won an astonishing 1 games, setting a record that would stand for 44
years. Meanwhile, the New York Giants finished 5 games ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers to earn their spot in the World
Series. The Giants swept the heavily favored Indians in 4 games, claiming their 5th World Series title. They hadn't won
one in 21 years. They wouldn't win another for another half century, playing as the San Francisco Giants.
By 1955, Jackie Robinson's skills were beginning to fade. His batting average dropped to .256, the lowest of his career,
and well below his .3 career average. But he still terrifed pitchers and catchers with his speed on the bases, and he
helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win the National League Pennant by and a half games. The New York Yankees topped the
Cleveland Indians by 3 games in the American League, setting up the third World Series confrontation between the
two teams in 4 years. The Yankees took the first 2 games of the series, leaving the Dodger fans despairing of yet
another grave disappointment. But the Dodgers would come back and the series was eventually knotted at 3 games each.
In game 7, Johnny Podres pitched a 2-0 shutout for the Dodgers, permitting them to claim their first World Series title.
"This is one you have never heard before," typed one New York sportswriter. "The Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world"
There would be a rematch in 1956. The Yankees easily outpaced the Cleveland Indians by 9 games, while the Dodgers
edged out the Milwaukee Braves by a single game. Mickey Mantle led both leagues in batting average, .353, home runs, 52
and runs batted in, 0 despite injuries to both legs. This time the Dodgers would win the first two games. The second game
of the series became the first game in World Series history in which a team that hit a grand slam home run, the Yankees,
lost the game. It has only happened one time since. The Yankees came back to win the next two to tie the series.
Then in game 5, Yankees pitcher, Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in World Series history to give the Yankees
a 2-0 victory and a 3-2 lead in the series. The Dodgers rebounded in game 6 with a 1-0 shut out victory despite giving
up 7 hits. But in game 7 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Yankees prevailed -4 to claim yet another championship.
It was the last World Series game that would ever be played in Brooklyn. At the conclusion of the season, the Dodgers
traded Jackie Robinson to the New York Giants. But the trade would never be completed. Jackie Robinson announced his
retirement prior to finalizing the deal.
By 1957, both the Giants and Dodgers were watching their attendance numbers sag. Brooklyn was having a difficult time
attracting white fans to attend games in the African-American dominated neighborhood of Flatbush. The Dodgers fell to third
place, games behind the Milwaukee Braves. The Giants finished a dismal 6th, a distant 26 games back. Across town and
in the American League, the Yankees outpaced the Chicago White Sox by 8 games to win the American League pennant. The
Yankees would lose the World Series to the Braves in 7 games, but it was just another shock to New York baseball fans.
On July 18th, the New York Giants had announced that they would play their next season in San Francisco. On September 29,
the Giants played their final game at the Polo Grounds. They lost 9-1. Then on October 8, the unthinkable happened.
Walter O'Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, announced that he would move his team to Los Angeles for the 1958 season. Just one day
before, the city of Los Angeles had announced that had they approved funding for a baseball stadium to be built at Chavez
The golden age of baseball in New York had come to an end. Ebbets Field was destroyed by a wrecking ball on February 23,
1960. In 1964, the Polo Grounds met the same fate. A new expansion team would be given to New York in 1961, and the
Mets began play in 1962. Baseball has never returned to Brooklyn.
1 comment
Going Forward: Some Harsh Realities
Posted:May 29, 2020 1:42 pm
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

There are a LOT of people in this country who really need put on their big boy underoos and get in touch with reality. We can start with the current president and those who have their lips sewn to his backside. But it is time everyone gears themselves up for some uncomfortable reality. What "normal" is going to look like a year from now will not, and can not, look much like what "normal" looked like a year ago.

Wearing masks in public is something we are all going to have to get used to doing, probably for quite awhile. I don't give a shit whether or not you like it. The mask I wear protects you from me, and the mask you wear protects me from you. Pretty simple, isn't it? If we all do it, we are all better off. When I see people out in public without the mask, I have one simple reaction: You, non-mask wearer, are an asshole that doesn't care about anyone else, and not even enough about yourself. Yes, there are probably nicer ways to state this, but it is on point and accurate. Some people may not like it stated that bluntly, but I DO NOT CARE.

I'd love to go to a baseball game tonight. There is nothing better than sitting in Coors Field on a pleasant evening and watching the Rockies pitchers get lit up by mediocre batters. Well, I would rarther see the Rockies win, but I'm not going to be making any trips to Coors Field or any other ball parks this summer. It just isn't something we are going to be able to safely do. That makes me sad, but i understand why it can't happen. Part of being an adult is accepting realities that don't always conform to our wishes or desires. BTW, I don't think going to football, hockey or basketball games is likely this year either.

Sitting down and eating in a restaurant? Some opportunities are starting to make themselves available, but I am going to offer you a bit of advice: If you don't want to end up fighting for your breath and life with a nasty case of Covid-19, I wouldn't do it. Most restaurants will continue to offer delivery and pick up services. Avail yourself of those opportunities. The risk isn't worth it. "But Ken," some of you will counter, "It is my right to go out in public and eat in restaurants if I want." No. It is your privilege to do things like that. In this country, a lot of people are starting to confuse privileges with rights. It has a lot to do with their inability to fill out those big boy underoos

We have structured a society, and evolved an entire lifestyles that made us dangerously vulnerable to the exact situation with which we not find ourselves trying to cope. If we want to minimize the damages it will do to our economy and society, and avoid the next one, which is inevitable, we are going to have to rethink a lot of how we live on this planet.

I have no interest here in getting into anyone's debates about political affiliations or economic philosophies. Viruses don't give a shit about your party registration, and they attack capitalists and socialists without discrimination. Look, we know socialism doesn't wor It ignores too much about human behavior and motivation and it is inefficient. We have learned over the past few decades that capitalism doesn't work either. Without new infusions of resources to exploit, and perhaps just as an inevitable progression, capitalism becomes oligarchy. That has already happened here. Instead of participating in a debate that has all the trappings of judging a beauty contest in a lepper colony, we should be asking ourselves if EITHER of these systems are really the best we can do. Perhaps its time to ignite our energies into looking for better solutions.

A health care system that profits off the misfortunes of the population is sheer lunacy. A health care system that is profoundly focused upon addressing illness instead of promoting wellness is doomed to failure. A health care system in which most people's health insurance is tied to their employment is completely irrational. We have to fix this.

Dr. Carl Sagan warned us 4 decades ago that in a world that has become deeply dependant on science and technology, it is a prescription for disaster to arrange a society in which very few people have a functional understanding of science and technology. Worse still, we can no longer afford to have national leadership that is both illiterate of, and hostile too, the methods of science. We need to improve science education in our nation, and we must never again empower national leaders that refuse to embrace the counsel of experts in all fields of scientific thought.
Never again, can we accept national leadership that promotes notions like "America first." That just isn't rational in the world we now inhabit. We are profoundly and deeply tied to each other, economically, socially and politically; all of us. The tragedy that strikes Uganda, or Sri Lanka or Outer Mongolia is going to impact us, somehow, some time. This is a reality we can no longer ignore.

Never again can we accept national leadership that empowers the racist, xenophobic, or other dividing elements in our society. Skin pigmentation, religious differences or cultural variations are too trivial to spark our baser instincts.
We have to start treating our planet with more respect and care. No, the planet isn't too big for us to impact. We all are complicit in problems like pollution, resource depletion and climate change. Global pandemics become more likely the more we destroy habitat and ravage the rain forests. We must demand our national leadership to address these issues aggressively, we must hold them accountable, and we must, as individuals, strive to make every effort to decrease the size of our own footprint upon the planet. This is a measure we must take for our own welfare, and guarantee the habitability of the planet for our descendants.

The list of issues we must discuss going forward is lengthy and daunting. But there are no problems we are facing that will magically disappear by ignoring them. We all have an enormous stake in revising how we live on, and interact with, the planet upon which we reside. The stakes for our childern and grandchildren are even higher. We OWE this to them.
1 comment
Covid-19 Denial: Really people?
Posted:May 12, 2020 1:13 pm
Last Updated:May 29, 2020 1:43 pm

science denial is rather baffling , but of l it is an anti-intellectual manifestation that is becoming increasingly dangerous. Permit offer that when new ideas are introduced in science, skepticism is the reasonable default position. But as information is gathered and evidence for a proposition becomes increasingly strong, continuing deny the reality of a well demonstrated idea becomes dogmatism. Into these categories we can throw climate change denial, evolution denial and the anti-vaccine movement.

Of l a more immediatly dangerous proposition has reared its head, and I speak of the Covid-19 denial that is now causing serious a serious public health threat. I have rather sadly acknowledge that my own older brother falls into this group. But the evidence that this virus is among us, and causing a serious threat to public health is so obvious it is really astonishing that anyone can reasonably hold this view.

The arguments that the deniers make seem to follow a line of bizarre logic. The individual involved offers an argument essentially stating, "I don't know anyone who personally has this or has had it, therefore, it must be some sort of hoax." That isn't a very sound argument. I have been on this planet quite awhile and I have never personally known anyone who has had, or died from leukemia. But the evidence that this horrible affliction exists is sufficiently strong that I wouldn't deny it based upon the lack of personal observation.

Then we must ask them, what purpose would advancing the conspiracy that you are suggesting serve? There does seem to be a specific base of Covid-19 denial: It is political conservatism in general and fanatic Donald Trump support in specific. Neither of these elements are entirely surprising. Right wing politics over the past 2 decades has grown increasingly hostile to science, and support for Donald Trump has all the elements of cult-like fanaticism and paranoia.

But the rationality of denying the existence of this virus and disease quickly loses any ability to sustain an even marginally coherent argument. In order to sustain this belief, one must accept that virutally every township, city, county or parish or equivalent, st province or equivalent and national government on the planet, along with the entire scientific and medical professional communities, every major sports organization, and most of the major corporations on the planet have concoted the most elaborate consipracy in the history of the human race, very much in oppositon to their own well being and aggregate self interest, for the purpose of damaging Donald Trump's political well being. The hoax is so magnficently woven that even the Trump Administration has been drawn in to advance it.

To anyone with a measure of rationality, it isn't particulary difficult to understand that causing political damage to Donald Trump simply doesn't require efforts of this magnitude. that is genearlly required is permitting him speak or post Twitter. But simple rationality should defeat this bit of science denial within seconds. Enormous groups of people simply do not actively paricipate in conspiracies that not only don't promote their own self interests, they don't participate in conspiracies that can actively result in their own extreme financial damage.

There are also those who accept the existence of the disease, but offer the argument that the steps being taken battle it violate their rights. People seem talk a lot about rights these days, but seldom about responsibilities. Rights are not absolute, and the U.S. Supreme Court has consistenly upheld the simple principle that my right swing my fist ends just before it reaches your nose. We are in this together, and Corona Virus threatens of us in a fashion that goes well beyond some economic pain or temporary suspencion of comfort liberties. Economies can be repaired, but dead men rise never.
1 comment
Hydroxochloroquine vs. Covid-19: The facts
Posted:Apr 5, 2020 6:24 am
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

It is time that the facts about hydroxocholoroquine as a drug battle the Corona Virus are made clear. The President has been touting it frequently, twice in yesterday's new conference alone, and the talking heads of Fox News, never known for any degree of scientific expertise, have been banging the drum for it regularly. Here is the reality: There just isn't any evidence it actually works.

There has been anecdotal evidence from China and Europe that it might have some benefit. But the number of cases where positive results have been shown can be counted on one hand with a couple of fingers to spare. A few studies, also with small numbers of trial subjects, show no benefit whatsoever. So are there any other lines of evidence pointing to its effectiveness?

Two have been offered. First, hydroxocholoroquine is frequently used as an anti-malarial drug. Since the incidence of malaria highest in Africa, the drug is used there more often than anyplace else on the planet. Africa has had a very low incidence of Covid-19 to d therefore, some proponents of the drug are jumping a causal conclusion. But it isn't very impressive reasoning.

First of , the low incidence of Covid-19 in Africa so far could be linked low testing capabilities, combined with the fact that most of Africa has been in their summer season while this outbreak has been sweeping through the northern hemisphere. During summer months, you are generally exposed greater concentrations of ultra-violet radiation from the sun, and UV tends degenerate most viruses, so that alone could account for the lower incidence, which has been common in the southern hemisphere. But cases throughout the southern hemisphere now seem be accelerating.

No study has been done compare rates of infection between those who have been treated with the anti-malarial drug in Africa versus those who have not. Consequently, there is simply no way correlate the effectiveness of the drug based a generally lower rate of incidence. There are too many other factors that have to be considered.

Another line of reasoning is that cases of Covid-19 in Lupus patients seem to be lower than the general population. Hydroxochloroquine is also used in Lupus patients sometimes. But again, there have been no studies comparing rates of infections among Lupus patients who have used the drug to those who have not. That might be an interesting avenue of research, but, again, other factors could be at . It is awfully difficult correlate the effectiveness of a drug in a specific population without systematic research involving large tests groups and appropriate control groups. It might simply be that patients with Lupus are taking more care avoid exposure than the population in general.

Hydroxochloroquine is beneficial for certain conditions, but it remains be seen whether or not it has any role in the Covid-19 battle beyond a placebo effect. But this is a decidedly dangerous placebo for 2 reasons. First, it has some rather nasty side effects and can be extremely dangerous taken in inappropriate doses. Second, the promotion of the drug in this case can initiate stock-piling behaviors that can have serious consequences to those who have a specific medical need for it. It is never wise to promote the effectiveness of any drug in advance of the research, and while we are anxious for a cure, patience remains a virtue.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19: Or How I Learned to Relax and Love the Corona Virus
Posted:Mar 15, 2020 8:56 am
Last Updated:May 9, 2020 8:06 pm

There have been so many questions, and so much information that has fallen well short of necessary accuracy. Sadly, the government that plays the most critical role in distributing accurate information in situations of this nature has failed at a level that goes beyond spectacular. That is a topic I will return to later, but first, let’s try to examine some of the most important questions surrounding this pandemic.

The questions that have been foremost in the minds of most people are along these lines: Where did this come from? How bad is it? How bad is it going to get? How much danger are we in? Should I be worried? What can I do? How long will this pandemic last? All of these are very valid against the backdrop of a global pandemic. So let’s try to provide come accurate information.

I will start with the question, “Should I be worried?” The best answer is probably, you should be concerned. There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus, but it does seem to spread with distressing ease, at least among certain segments of the population. Further, the incubation period is lengthy, often as much as two weeks, so at this point, it is extremely difficult to gauge how widespread it really is at this point. Continue to practice all the common sense measures, and if you are charging into the grocery store, bowling over old ladies to fill your cart with toilet paper, you ARE overreacting. Frankly, if things get so bad that there is a legitimate shortage of toilet paper, we will all have bigger problems than keeping our asses clean. The best course going forward for everyone is to act as if you haven’t, and you have been exposed.

In saying that you should act as if you haven’t been exposed, continue all the common sense measures that are likely to help ward off bacterial and viral infections. You should eat healthy, get plenty of rest and sleep, stay hydrated, avoid long periods of exposure to sunlight, reduce exposure to large crowds, and yes, you have all heard this until you are sick of hearing it, but WASH YOUR HANDS regularly using the guidelines everyone can now recite by heart. When battling viral infection, hand washing is probably superior, in the long run, to the use of hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Hand washing with soap decreases surface tensions, something critical to viruses and that reduces the opportunities for them to gain a foothold. Sanitizers and disinfectants are essentially topical antibiotics. Most claim to be about 99.9% effective, which sounds like a good thing and it is. The problem is the 0.1% of viruses and bacteria they don’t kill. Those pathogens are genetically resistant to the active ingredients and they produce copies of themselves that share those resistant characteristics. Consequently, overuse of sanitizers and disinfectants can produce generations of harmful viruses and bacteria that are increasingly difficult to kill and more potentially dangerous to everyone. So use of disinfectants and hand sanitizers can have some effectiveness if done rationally, but don’t use them like you are a heroin addict in a poppy field.

Act as if you are infected? Quite simply put, maintain social distancing to the greatest degree possible. If you can work from home, do so. Avoid situations where you will come into contact with large crowds. These simple practices will not only help keep you from becoming infected, if you haven’t been, but will protect others if you have. If you are sick, don’t go to work. Once again, this is simply common sense.

Where did this come from? Conspiracy theories hit the internet early on in this pandemic and continue to spread in one form or another. The first conspiracy theories centered on bioweapon labs near Wuhan, and now they have shifted to fingers pointing at the U.S. Army. Neither are accurate, and we have a reasonably good idea where this virus originated. The simple answer appears to be, bats. If you are a mammal on planet Earth, chances are pretty good that you are a bat. They make up nearly a quarter of mammalian species on Earth, so they are a pretty common incubator for viruses that eventually end up in humans. That said, the accusation that they spread to humans through the claim that some Chinese people eat Bat Soup or wide spread unsanitary living conditions in the country are rooted more deeply in racism than reality.

The genetic markers of this virus indicate that it probably jumped from bats to another mammalian species about 60 to 70 years ago. There are currently 3 species that are strong suspects. From there, the virus was transferred to humans at the Wuhan “wet markets, where both live and dead animals are sold and sometimes butchered on sight. Crowded conditions and careless sanitary practices at these markets made for a prime opportunity for the virus to make the final jump to humans. One thing that is absolutely certain is that this is NOT a bioweapon.

How bad is it? As I write, the virus has now been reported in 49 states and 126 countries, including Vatican City and Hong Kong counted as separate entities. Probabilities are, it is present in every nation on the planet.In the few countries that haven’t reported cases it is more likely the result of lack of testing than absence. This is truly a global pandemic.

How bad is it going to get? This is a question that can only be answered by stating, nobody knows at this time. The long incubation period creates the possibility that a lot more people are possibly infected right now than can be reasonably estimated, and symptoms won’t become evident for a couple of weeks. So the number of cases, which is already growing at a nearly
exponential rate, could swell enormously by early April. It has been suggested by certain political leaders in the United States that this will simply disappear once warmer weather spreads across the Northern Hemisphere. But that claim is more based on wishful thinking than any base of knowledge. We know that flu is more common in colder weather months than in spring and summer for a variety of reasons. To suggest that this virus will follow that pattern is simply a matter of conjecture. But even if it does, that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods by any means. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 hit hard in the cold weather months early in 1918, then did subside in the northern hemisphere when warmer weather arrived. But it returned with a vengeance in the fall of 1918, and was actually more lethal thru the fall and winter that led into 1919. So even if this virus does subside with the warmer weather, we should all use that respite as an opportunity to prepare for a possibly worse situation to come.

How much danger are we in? That really varies by the person. This is a virus that is striking the elderly and those with diminished immunity issues selectively, but that is to be expected. As we grow older, our immune systems do get weaker, which is why this virus seems to be leaving largely unaffected. But can still be carriers of the virus, so maintaining company with large groups of isn’t an answer to keeping contact with people without becoming infected. The fact that this virus is hitting hardest among people with diminished immunity capabilities indicates that it is kind of wimpy, but it can survive for several hours on certain types of surfaces, so frequent hand washing really is important. It should be noted, however, that healthy young people are not being spared becoming sick. Typically the symptoms are mild, but that can lead to people ignoring them and infecting others. There have also been widespread reports in China of respiratory complications and lung damage from even mild cases. So it is prudent to try to avoid becoming infected, even if you are a young person in good health. There is one bit of good news in this, however. Your or cat are probably safe from infection. There has been one reported case of a testing positive at low levels, but it did not suffer any adverse effects. So Rover and Boots are going to be just fine.

How long will this situation last? Again, no one can be certain. As we noted above, the decline of the Spanish Flu epidemic early last century was merely the calm before the storm. Further, some virologists believe that this virus has already evolved into 2 separate strains, which is going to make the development of an effective vaccine more difficult. Just yesterday as I write, there was also a report of the first confirmed case of reinfection of an individual that had already been sick. So at this point, it is probably not wise to act as if this is all going to go away in a couple of weeks.

In a situation of this nature, one of the best weapons available is accurate information. On this point, the present leadership of the United States has fumbled in a serious fashion. The current President has proven to be the poster boy for Dunning-Kruger Effect, pretending to information nobody had. In science, “I don’t know” can be an acceptable answer. In other human pursuits like politics and religion, it is dangerously anathema. There is a fine line between trying to calm the public with reassuring information, and misinforming them with dangerously ignorant bullshit. Our government crossed that line early in this situation and continues to do so. There would have been nothing wrong, with many of the questions asked, if the President and his advisers had answered some of those questions by saying, “We really don’t know the answer to that question at this time, but outstanding people are seeking the answers. As soon as we have answers, they will be shared with the public.” That, surely would have been superior to the many instances where the President and various advisers were issuing conflicting information, often within minutes of each other. Under these circumstances, it isn’t surprising that an environment of uncertainty and fear has been fostered.

The bottom line here is that we are dealing with an unknown. If you tell people about a flu outbreak, people don’t get too concerned. Most of us have had the flu, and miserable as we know it can be, we generally shake it off and move on. But this is different, and alien to our experience. People fear the unknown. But if we all keep our heads, exercise common sense and stop endangering others in a frantic pursuit for toilet paper, we will get through this. I promise.
NO!!!! 2020 is NOT the beginning of a new decade!
Posted:Dec 30, 2019 5:09 pm
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

I have been seeing it everywhere. The proclamations that we will start a new year and a new decade in 2020. Sorry folks, but no, we aren't. This is a remarkable demonstration of historical and mathematical ignorance.

We mark the beginning of the common era with the year 1 A.D. It was thus established almost arbitrarily, based upon and errant calculation of the birth year of Jesus. I discuss that particular piece of misinformation at length in another essay posted here, but Jesus, if he existed at all, was not born on 1 A.D. However, that errant date has been the cornerstone of our modern calendar.

The old era, with dates we generally refer to as either B.C. (before Christ) or B.C.E. (before the common era), ends with 1 B.C. The curious question arises, how did people track time in those days? After all, nobody in 9 B.C. knew when the errant calculation of the birth of Jesus would be offered.

I won't go into that at length here. Suffice it to say, the dominant power in the world in the late years before the common era and for a few centuries after was the Roman Empire, and dates were based on the time since the founding of Rome. So the present system didn't come into use until about 5 centuries into the common era, and it some parts of the world it took considerably longer.

So, the time before the common era ended with 1 B.C., and the first year of the common era was 1 A.D. There was never a year 0. Consequently, the end of the first decade of the common era was A.D. The second decade began in A.D. Thus, the end of the first century was 0 A.D. and the second century of the common era began in 1 A.D.

We've never repeated a year, so nothing has changed. The final year of the 20th century was the year 2000, and the first year of the 21st century was 2001. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke were well aware of that when they set their fictional space odyssey in 2001.

So NO folks, don't be wishing anyone a happy new decade until next year....
Dinosaurs, Bad Politics and Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Fallacy of the Single Cause
Posted:Dec 15, 2019 11:25 am
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

Christmas season always brings back fond memories of childhood and for some of us, the warm delights of those happy Christmas mornings. I have many wonderful memories of the toy dinosaurs that frequently showed up under my childhood tree. There was one particular set of toys I remember that contained a triceratops, a T-Rex, a stegasaurus, a delightful looking duck-billed dinosaur called the trachodon, and, of course, the most popular dinosaur that never existed; the brontosaurus.

We now recognize the factual animal today as the apatosaur. The legend of that particular non-existent sauropod, the brontosaurus, grew out of the "bone wars" rivalry between O.C. Marsh and E.D. Cope in the late th century. These two giants in the history of paleontology, whose combined egos and dislike for each other led to both enormous strides in our knowledge of dinosaurs and, in at least one instance, led to the creation of an animal fabricated out of the imagination. That is not to mention the deplorable incidents of bribery, ad hominem attacks and the casual destruction of valuable fossils both men to promote their own reputations and destroy that of their rival. That is a story for another time.

Along with the aforementioned dinos, there was a small plastic cave complete with a palmtree and 3 cavemen. The creators of the set even spared fortunate enough to receive this magnificent collection the necessity of giving them names. They came with the pre-assigned monikers, Uga, Mugga and Sam. Sam was the one carrying a large club.

My education at the time was insufficient to understand the vast gulf of time that seperated Sam and his party from hanging around with the trachodon and his taxonomic clade cousins. The inclusion of early humans and dinosaurs in the same set did seem to imply a prehistoric temporal simultaneity. That could easily have been reinforced one of the most popular television offerings of the time. In those days, the Flintstones paraded through prime time with their litany of dinosaur servants. The seemed to serve early humans in every fashion from garbage disposals to mass transit and even air travel. However, Fred and Barney's daily commute to the rock quarry and wherever Barney worked was still accomplished through the courtesy of Fred's 2 feet.

The notion that dinosaurs and humans might have coexisted, at least at some point in time, came in handy for enhancing my own imagination. One gift I remember from an early birthday was a large set of toy soldiers with a green army and a yellow-green army, a couple of tanks, a helicopter and a cannon. Even in those days, the idea of the men shooting at each other struck me as somewhat appalling, so a better idea occured to me. On one side of my room I lined up my army men and their barrage of weapons. On the other side I gathered my herd of dinosaurs. The battle that ensued resembled one of those entertaining but notoriously bad Japanese monster movies of the era. Before you ask, I have no recollection of which side Uga, Mugga and Sam joined in alliance.

In my childhood, my took my 2 brothers and I on bi-weekly excursions to the local public library. In those days, computers were large devices that filled entire rooms and had less actual computing power than the cell phone presently in your pocket. The internet was still decades in the future, a remarkable invention that came to us so unexpectedly that not one of the great science fiction visionaries of the past ever came close to imagining or predicting its eventual existence. So we learned from books.

The public library in my city was a large and imposing building, at least for a of my size, with 2 floors. Adult books were down on the first floor and the 's books were upstairs. My would seat us on the steps on the 's floor, then take us one at a time to pick out a book. It never took me very long to find one: I always picked out a book either about dinosaurs or the stars and planets. I seriously doubt that my hometown library actually had a whole lot of 's books about either topic, so it will remain a point lost to history as to how many times I checked out the few available books about dinosaurs.

Eventually I came to learn that the dinosaurs disappeared from the planet a long time before humans appeared, thus the inclusion of my three cavemen in the set was at best an inaccuracy. Sadly, this concept has still not become a matter of universal knowledge a decade into the 21st century, five decades removed from my own staged titanic battles between dinosauria and homo-sapiens. There remains a disquietingly large of people who believe that the Flintstones was closer to documentary than an animated whim, and that the dinosaurs very possibly disappeared in the same mythic flood that prompted Noah to take an unlikely, read: impossible voyage. It is a disturbing enough that anyone still believes in the ridiculous story of Noah and the universal flood in its own right.

The time scales of the existence of our universe are unimaginable to we poor humans and our planet has been around for only a fraction of the time the universe itself has existed. But even the billions of years that have passed since our Earth came into existense staggers our minds, perhaps leading to an understanding of why some folks try to scale the total history of existence into a few millenia. Thinking of history in terms of a couple of hundred generations is somehow easier to conceptualize than 4.5 billion years, out of which we have been around for only about 100,000 and most of that lost in pre-history.

One year is easier for us to understand, so suppose we imagine that the Earth was formed at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 20 and the moment you are reading this is 23:59:59 on the evening of December 31, 20. When did the major events on our planet occur on our one year calendar?

Not much happened back in January, February or March. The Earth was being bombarded heavily celestial debris in the opening weeks of January, forming its present size. Volcanoes and comets helped form the early atmosphere and oceans. the end of January the planet had taken its present size, violent storms swept over the world and the organic chemistry that would lead to life was brewing in the oceans.

The first simple life forms appeared in the oceans about April Fool's Day. The first more complex, multi-celluar forms evolved the end of April. Trilobites and their kin appeared the end of the first week in May and the vertebrates that would prey upon them showed up Memorial Day. The month of June passed with more of the same. Half our year is over and there still isn't a single life form on the land.

Plants colonized the land about the middle of July. They had a tough go of it at first, most of them being swept back into the ocean winds and rain, but the end of the month they had established a firm foothold. They would be followed the first lung fish, then amphibians about the third week of August. Insects made their appearance around September first.

Reptiles evolved from the line of the amphibians and the earliest dinosaurs made their appearance in late September. They would rule the planet throughout the month of October, developing a taste for some delicious little we would recognize as mammals who showed up around the middle of the month. Sometime close to Thanksgiving Day in late November, a large object collided with the planet that finished off the dinosaurs. It probably wasn't what actually caused their extinction. That is a point we will return to shortly.

With the dinosaurs gone, those furry little guys called mammals found a world better suited to their needs. They proliferated throughout December and thousands of new species were born. When the sun rose on December 31, there were still no true homonids on the planet. Our early ancestors finally arrived around noon on the final day of the year, more than a month after the last dinosaurs succumbed to extinction. Neanderthals and homo sapiens were finally roaming the planet at :00 PM. The earliest cave paintngs were created around : PM and humans created knives and spears minutes later. Recorded history begins at :55 PM and at :58:43 a guy named Jesus is believed to have roamed around telling people how to behave. Columbus "discovered" a new continent where tens of thousads of people were already leading happy, productive lives at :59:40. As noted, you are reading this at :59:59. Everyone we have ever heard of, or know anything about, lived in the last 5 minutes of the year. Our modern civilization has encompassed 20 seconds out of the year.

Condensed down to a scale where the history of the Earth is measured in a single year, everything vaguely human that has ever existed lived in the last hours of the last day of the year. True homo-sapiens have only been around for an hour. comparison, the dinosaurs lasted nearly 2 full months. In this context the famed paleotologist Jack Horner once observed, "The true question about the dinosaurs is not why they became extinct, but rather, how they lasted so long."

It has long been known that a mass extinction occured on the planet around 65 million years ago and whatever caused that event was probably also responsible for the disappearance of the dinosaurs. All sorts of competing theories were advanced, ranging from disease, volcanic eruptions, gradual climate change resulting from continental drift and other suggestions. When Louis Alverez discovered a worldwide layer of iridum in sediments dating to the time of the K.T. extinction, many scientist believed that they had discovered the long sought smoking gun. They should have known better.

There can be no question that a large asteroid impacted the area that is now the Gulf of Mexico which was at least a contributing factor to the mass extinction that occured at the end of the Cretaceous. It can also be reasonably argued that it was the event that likely put an end to what was left of the dinosaurs. But the simple fact is, most dinosaur species existing at that time were already in signficant decline.

The spate of new theories that continue to surface every few years as to the cause of the disappearance of the dinosaurs is testimony to the bias even scientists can fall into: Major events rarely to never have single causes. The dinosaurs as a class were well on their way to extinction the time the asteroid came along. There is almost certainly no single smoking gun, but rather a witch's brew of events that led to a long decline, followed the single, Earth-changing event from which the dinosaurs could not recover. A lot of species not nearly as stressed went with them.

Viruses or bacterial infections can decimate, but never entirely wipe out a single species, let alone an entire clade. Volcanic activity can cause havoc locally or in some instances even globally, but the inconvienences it can cause to life would be similarly unlikely to cause an extinction event on the scale of the K.T. event. A combination of sudden events in concert with more gradual changes brought about a changing climate, with the possibility of an unknown cataclysmic environmental trap, or even severe events caused a stressed system suddenly changing to find a new equalibrium could also create enormous difficulties.

The bottom line is that there is signficant evidence that the disappearance of the dinosaurs can be explained a long decline that likely resulted from a confluence of events, with the collision acting as the coupe de grace. The object lesson here is that if you want to explain big occurrances, a lot of events are not only more likely necessary to satisfactorily explain the phenomenon, it is virtually certain that one of any size alone will never do the job.

Lessons learned in biology frequently apply to the human realm. I frequently hear comparisons between excesses or problems glaring in the Roman Empire offered in comparison to situations in the modern U.S. "That is the reason why Rome fell!" is the typical lament. Curiously, I have heard at least 50 different lessons the Romans offered that should give us pause to clean up our own act. The conclusion? Well, it sort of looks like Rome fell for a lot of different reasons. If our great nation ever is dispatched to the dust bin of history, not only will we be likely to take global civilization with us, but it will probably be for a myriad of reasons, a few of which might coincidentally mirror the fall of ancient Rome.

That brings us to one of the modern mythologies of American political conservatism: The warrior on his white (at least in the conciousness of adherents) marched into the White House circa 81, put on his blue costume adorned on the front a giant red letter "S" and single-handedly banished the evil Soviet Union from the planet. He even labled the old U.S.S.R. as "the evil empire" just before his act of selfless heroism lest anyone should fail to understand the necessity of sending it to its demise.

There is just one problem with this myopic exercise in revisionist history. The observations of Professor Horner with regard to the fate of the dinosaurs applies equally to the Soviet Union, but not in a positive context. It isn't surprising they fell apart, what is surprising is that they lasted so long. It was an inefficient, top-heavy, bureaucratic state that struggled to implement even simple, vital programs to enhance their own general welfare. Decades of excessive spending in unproductive economies, bad investments to poor nations that had no prospect of ever returning the investment, numerous and regular seasons of agricultural failure devastated their economy and balance of trade, overspending on military endeavors and finally, reckless foreign military adventurism, capped off a disasterous invasion of Afghanistan are just a few among many other obvious causes.

Of course it is much easier and perhaps intellectually rewarding to attribute complex events to easily definable causes. It rewards a world view in which we are emotionally invested and prevents us the necessity of expending valuable energy and time on the grander cause of gaining a less superficial grasp on the complex world we inhabit. That is a bias that applies, as I have demonstrated, to both the natural and political world.

Correlation is not causation, and failure to grasp the inherent complexity of events in their true nature can be a dangerous path to walk. The belief that simple solutions can be applied to remedy complex issues can lead to failed policies: A lesson we humans should have long since learned, yet we stubbornly fail to grasp.

copyright 20 all rights reserved
Eccentricities, Mysteries and theTitus-Bode Law:Trying to make sense of Triton
Posted:Dec 15, 2019 11:05 am
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

There are still great mysteries to be solved in our solar system, and in the minds of non-scientists, even matters that aren’t particularly mysterious bring about questions when exposed to them in a graphic way. I encounter this frequently when doing presentations on the Orbits Table at the museum. The uniform, counter-clockwise motion of all the planets around the sun seems to inevitably bring forth the question, why do all the planets orbit the sun in this fashion?

The answer is really quite simple: The planets all orbit in that fashion as the result of the properties of the original solar nebula from which the planets and the sun formed. It might have been different. We might have viewed it all in a different way as well. In fact, if civilization had principally originated in the southern hemisphere, our globe might well have Antarctica at the top. So the counter-clockwise motion of the planets is a function of both factors that predate the origins of the solar system and human bias. But the uniform motions of the major planets, both in terms of their motions around the sun and their alignment along the plane of the ecliptic is pretty clear evidence of the sole involvement of natural laws of physics, not the intervention of divine creation.

Had some great, hairy thunderer played a role in the formation of the solar system, a greater degree of creative, artistic whim in the structure of the solar system might well be expected. I can well imagine planets orbiting the sun in both clockwise and counter-clock directions, and planets with wildly varying degrees of orbital inclination. A much more artistic solar system configuration was clearly possible in the hands of omnipotence. But what we got was a solar system that behaves well understood physical laws. Consequently, among the major planets at least, everything behaves in a predictable and well understood fashion.

There was a time when we didn’t understand the workings of the solar system all that well. A few centuries ago, religious biases forced us to accept the conclusion that the Earth was the center of creation and all objects in the heavenly firmament orbited around us. The sun and moon offered no problems to this view of cosmology. Their behaviors appeared pretty consistent to our ancestors, who were far more keen observers of the heavens than most of us. The stars also behaved themselves pretty well. Issues arose, however, when we had to define the motions of the planets. Most of the time they seemed to progress across the sky east to west, but occasionally they would start to move retrograde against the constellations and generally foul up the entire works. This led to extremely complex efforts to explain their apparent motions.

This geocentric model of the universe was complex and messy, but held sway for several centuries for two reasons: First, it did match the observations. No one could really explain the complex, loop the loop performance of the planets, but it had the advantage of being observationally useful. Second, it was consistent with the prevailing philosophies of western piety, so it could be offered without objection from officialdom. Then along came Copernicus and Galileo. Copernicus offered a model of the solar system where the sun and not the Earth was the center of the solar system. The telescopic observations of Galileo demonstrated that there were unseen objects in the solar system, specifically the moons of Jupiter, that orbited that body and not the Earth. Both concluded, to the chagrin of the church, that it was the sun and not the Earth that was at the center of creation. However, this model still failed to explain the occasional retrograde movements of the planets against the backdrop of the stars.

Johannes Kepler was able to resolve that matter with his laws of planetary motion. Kepler’s first law (there are 3) defines the orbits of the planets as being elliptical, and not circular as was previously assumed. The elliptical nature of planetary orbits once and for all settled the matter of the strange apparent motions of the planets in the sky and removed all possible objections to a solar-centric model. Even the church had to ultimately capitulate to the truth, although the process was still a difficult .

In the 70’s Johann Elert Bode and Johann Daniel Titius noted a peculiar Fibonacci order to the placement of the planets. They would define what would become known as the Titius-Bode law, which seemed to define where the planets are aligned around the sun in their orbits. Effectively, the distances of the known planets (there were only 6 at the time including Earth) could be defined the formula, a=4+x where x= 0, 3, 6, , 24, 48 and so on where, except for the first value, every new in the series is twice the value of the previous . So the expected and actual placement of the planets was as follows:
Mercury=4 Mercury=3.9
Venus=7 Venus=7.2
Earth=10 Earth=10
Mars= Mars=.2
?=28 *Ceres=27.7
Jupiter=52 Jupiter=52
Saturn=100 Saturn=95.5

When the Titius-Bode series was first defined, the largest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres, or even the belt itself had not yet been discovered. The empty spot in the series set off a flurry of efforts to discover the missing planet and Ceres was discovered in 1801. A of other bodies in what is now known as the asteroid belt were to follow, but the infallibility of the Titius-Bode law was already accepted.

Around the time the Titius-Bode law was published, astronomers began searching for a possible 7th planet that, if the law were accurate, should orbit the sun at 6. Uranus was discovered in 81, about 9 years after Johann Bode published the law. It was discovered at a distances of 2.2, less than 2% closer than the law predicted. This seemed an almost complete vindication of the law.

That it took so long to discover Uranus is almost astonishing, given how keenly talented our ancestors were at sky observation. Uranus is a naked eye object, just barely, but it had been seen and entered on star maps dating back to Assyrian times. The problem may have been that is is so faint and moves so slowly against the backdrop of the stars that the time sky maps were updated, it wasn’t unusual to note the new location of Uranus and simply assume it hadn’t previously been entered on sky maps. But almost as soon as Uranus was discovered, anomalies in its orbit suggested that another world should exist beyond it. The existence of Neptune was established
mathematically before it was ever actually observed, and even its position in the sky was accurately calculated. The problem was, it was in the predicted part of the sky, but not the right distance from the sun according to Titius-Bode.
Neptune should have been located at a distance of 388 units, or 38.8 A.U. One A.U. is an astronomical unit, the distance of Earth from the sun. Neptune was only . A.U. from the sun, a variation of 22.4% off the predicted value. Either something was fundamentally wrong with the Titius-Bode law, perhaps it was entirely coincidence, or something anomalous had to be explained in the far reaches of the known solar system.

So it can be established that the Titius-Bode Law works for most of the solar system. Why it falls apart beyond Uranus is unknown, but it is a point to which we will return later. With the existence of other solar systems now firmly established, it becomes possible to test the idea out elsewhere.

Our solar system is something of an anomaly in the galaxy. The typical model seems to be the “hot Jupiter” system, where a large Jovian type world develops early and migrates in towards the primary star. This discourages the formation of smaller, rocky worlds, like the terrestrial worlds in our solar system. But we have found a lot of systems out there with at least 3 planets, giving us other opportunities to test the Bode sequence. Out of 1 exo-systems evaluated to date, 4 of them fit the model pretty well. In fact, 5 exoplanets have been discovered in other systems applying Titius-Bode derived predictions.

So to some degree and up to some point, Titius-Bode actually works. Why it only works up to a certain point is worthy of conjecture. In our solar system, like many others we are discovering, Jupiter evidently was the first to form and had it not been for some extreme good luck, our system might have followed the hot Jupiter model that seems so common. The stroke of good luck that befell us goes the name of Saturn. Once Jupiter formed, it did start migrating inward and probably made it as close to the sun as the present asteroid belt. Most of the available material in that area was probably either swallowed up Jupiter or ejected from the solar system, explaining why no reasonably large planet formed there.

But Saturn arrested Jupiter’s inward motion, enabling small, rocky worlds to form and survive closer to the sun. Jupiter settled into its present orbit and Uranus and Neptune also formed further out. However, the gravitational interplay of Jupiter and Saturn had a significant effect on these two worlds as well. Neptune was probably the closer of the pair to the sun originally, but the gravitational effects of Jupiter and Saturn likely caused Uranus and Neptune to exchange orbits, possibly a few times. This might have ultimately caused Neptune to settle into an orbit closer to the sun than would have been expected the Titius-Bode law. But it might explain another anomaly in the other system, which we will get to shortly.

First, we return to Kepler. As we discussed earlier, Kepler’s first law of planetary motion defines all planetary orbits as ellipses with the sun at one focus. Just how egg shaped these orbits are varies from planet to planet and is known as orbital eccentricity. The orbital eccentricities of the major planets are listed below. The lower the value, the more nearly circular the orbit:
Mercury 0.2056
Venus 0.0068
Earth 0.07
Mars 0.0934
Jupiter 0.0484
Saturn 0.0541
Uranus 0.0472
Neptune 0.0086
Pluto 0.2488

Pluto isn’t considered a major planet anymore, but I include it with the 8 major planets for a reason. One of the reasons it is no longer considered a major planet is its orbit. First, it has an extremely eccentricity, significantly higher than any other planet in the solar system except Mercury. Second, it also has a high orbital inclination. Of the major planets, the highest orbital inclination also belongs to Mercury, inclined about 7 degrees to the ecliptic. We used Earth’s orbit to define the plane of the ecliptic, so our orbital inclination is defined at a 0 degrees. Among the rest of the planets, Venus is slightly over 3 degrees and the rest are under 2 degrees. Pluto has an orbital inclination of . degrees. Neptune’s value is 1.77 degrees and I mention that for reasons I will get to soon.

As I noted earlier, all the planets orbit the sun, or rather all the planets and the sun orbit their barycenter in a counter-clockwise direction with our geographic north pole arbitrarily defined as “up.” In space, the concepts of up and down are entirely meaningless. All the asteroids also follow this convention, and even the trans-Neptunian Kuiper Belt objects that are being found seem to follow the pattern despite the severe orbital inclinations characteristic to those bodies. Eris, for example, has an inclination of 44.187 degrees.

Almost all of the various planetary moons also follow this counter-clockwise convention, although there are a few exceptions. Both Jupiter and Saturn have a few small moons that orbit retrograde or clockwise, but these are invariably very small objects with highly eccentric and severely inclined orbits, suggesting that they are almost certainly captured bodies that wandered too close. In most cases, the gravitational hold these two planets have on the bodies in question is feeble, suggesting that their hold on them is temporary at best.
But once again the outer solar system holds a confounding mystery, one that planetary astronomers have yet to answer in a satisfactory manner.

Triton is Neptune’s largest moon, the 7th largest moon in the solar system. For a time, some thought that it might be the largest moon in the solar system, but it’s high albedo led to miscalculations of its true size. Voyager 2 settled the issue in 89. The fascinating thing about Triton is that it probably shouldn’t be there. Triton actually orbits Neptune retrograde and it has a rather orbital inclination of 6.885 degrees to Neptune and 9.8 degrees to the sun. This is extreme even trans-Neptunian standards.

So the suspicion is that Triton might be a captured object. It is in many ways a twin to Pluto. Its appearance seems to be quite similar to Pluto and the duo are very close in size. Triton’s equatorial diameter is about 2700 km compared to Pluto’s 22 km. There is just one problem with the suggestion that Triton is a captured body: Triton has one of the most perfectly circular orbits in the solar system with an orbital eccentricity of just 0.0000. The odds of a captured body achieving an orbit this close to circular without some other force acting upon it are close enough to zero to be considered untenable.

That Triton was, in fact, a captured body seems almost certain. The problem of explaining its close to circular orbit remains confounding. The most reasonable explanation to date is that Triton was once part of a binary system and a close approach to Neptune slowed it sufficiently to not only be captured Neptune, but to settle into a nearly circular orbit. But the question remains of what happened to its binary partner. The same slowing effect on Triton might have accelerated its partner out of the solar system, but there are certain mechanical problems with this hypothesis as well.

The mysteries of the outer solar system, Triton, the extreme axial tilt of Uranus, the arc rings of Neptune and other questions beckon us to return to the outer solar system. One or more Cassini class probes might provide a lot of answers. To date, our only close visual inspection of Uranus and Neptune was provided the quick flyby of Voyager 2. We need to return soon.
Disamring the War on Christmas: Why it's appropriate to wish your friends and family Happy Holidays
Posted:Nov 30, 2019 7:22 pm
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

We live in a society where facts are increasingly and astonishingly being questioned. There is an old saying that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts. We would all do well to understand that rather basic point. It is a fact that 2+2=4, and it can be demonstrated with numerous simple experiments and observations. You may claim that 2+2=5. but at that point, the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate the claim. A universally negative hypothesis is impossible to prove.

It is a basic point of science that a universally negative hypothesis is impossible to prove. Returning to our example above, I can offer the hypothesis that 2+2=4 and demonstrate the reality of the hypothesis by numerous demonstrations. I can never prove that there is no instance where 2+2=5. If anyone wishes to make that claim, they will have to demonstrate that instance. The initial claim that 2+2=4 is therefore falsifiable. The claim that 2+2=5 is also falsifiable in that I can demonstrate a number of instances where it doesn’t. However, I can never demonstrate that there are no cases where it doesn’t.

Now, what does all of this have to do with our society’s most fervent holiday celebrated almost universally near the end of the year? Ostensibly, it is a holiday celebrating the birth of the Christian savior, Jesus Christ. As such, some radical Christians are claiming that there is an effort underway to destroy the holiday. This is, of course, nonsense. Even most non-Christians in our society celebrate Christmas. The reason is rather simple, whether most people really understand it or not. Christmas is not, and never has been, a Christian holiday. People have been celebrating a similar holiday for millennia. Our present traditions tied to the “Christian” holiday of Christmas almost all predate the birth of Jesus by centuries.

It is important to note that everything we know about the life of Jesus is contained in the 4 “gospels” of the New Testament. There is no compelling evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus even existed. It seems a bit astonishing that an individual that was as temporally important as Jesus is credited with being in the Bible is not mentioned in any surviving historical record outside the Bible. But it is even more interesting that as important as Jesus is in the Bible, the four gospels don’t tell us all that much about him, and a lot of what modern Christians believe about Jesus are either not part of the gospels at all, or were not mentioned in all of them.

None of the 4 credited authors of the gospels were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. The first was probably Mark, which is generally believed to have been written around 70 AD, nearly 4o years after Jesus was crucified. Matthew was written around 80 AD, Luke around 90 and finally John in 95 AD. Interestingly, neither of the earlier 2 gospels, Mark and Matthew, make any mention of the virgin birth. There are numerous contradictions and errors in the 4 gospels, and those contradictions alone could be subject of a very lengthy article. But that is not my purpose here.

More to the point of this article, it is astonishing that the Bible tells us next to nothing about when Jesus was actually born, in any of the 4 gospels. In Matthew, it is stated that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod, and Luke elaborates a little further by telling us that Jesus was born during the census of Quirinius. All of this makes sense, but it is damaging to the notion that Jesus was born on December 25 of 1 AD. First of all, we know with high confidence that Herod died in 4 B.C., so if Matthew is accurate, Jesus couldn’t have been born later than that. Further, the census of Quirinius occurred in 6 B.C., which is consistent with the statement in Matthew. So it is evident that Jesus was probably born in 6 B.C., although some theologians place his year of birth as early as 33 B.C.

The Bible only offers us one other clue. Luke 2:8 tells us that the shepherds were tending their flocks through the night on the night Jesus was born. By the traditions in that part of the world at that time, livestock was quartered indoors during the winter months, and the only time shepherds would have been tending their flocks through the night was during the spring lambing season. That pretty much rules out the December 25 date. So the only thing we can surmise with any certainty about the birth date of Jesus was that it was NOT in the early morning hours, or any other time of day, on December 25, and it was not in 1 AD.

So why does Christianity celebrate a clearly errant date as the birthday of the central figure in their religion? The answer, again, is because we human folk have been celebrating a significant holiday around that time for thousands of years. Since the earliest humans appeared on Earth, we have understood the importance of the sun in our lives. Not only does the east to west movement of the sun across the sky define day and night, but the north to south and south to north movement was critical to our long term survival.

In our early hunter-gatherer days, the north-south movement of the sun was tied to animal migrations and the availability of various fruits and edible plants. Once we invented agriculture, the northward movement of the sun and its crossing of the celestial equator at the time of the vernal equinox signaled the time when it would be prudent to plant crops. The southward movement and the crossing of the celestial equator at the autumnal equinox signaled the approaching time of ripening and harvest of crops. When the southward movement stopped at the time of the winter solstice, the promise of the rebirth of the Earth was celebrated. Clearly, if some year that southward movement didn’t stop, the unfortunate inhabitants of Earth would have been doomed to freeze in the dark. So it was understandable that the winter solstice took on special significance on an annual basis.

In the early days of humanity, the axial tilt of Earth and its orbit around the sun were not understood. But it didn’t really matter to most of the population why the Earth had seasons. All they cared about or really understood was that the seasons did come and go, that each had special significance in our human lives, and it was all somehow tied to the sun. So long before the birth of Jesus and the establishment of Christianity, the year’s most significant holiday was the winter solstice.

The holiday was given many names by many civilizations over the march of human history, but one of the most elaborate and recent, prior to the appropriation of the holiday by the Christian faith, was the Roman Festival of Saturn; The Saturnalia. It was a celebration that typically began on December 17 and ended on December 23. In other words, it began a few days before and ended a couple of days after the solstice.

The particulars of the holiday will sound pretty familiar. The Saturnalia was a time of peace. No wars could be started during the observation. People exchanged written notes with friendly sentiments. Bushes and trees were adorned with candles and baked goods. Gifts were exchanged. During the period, slaves were temporarily given reign over their masters. There was also a great deal of alcohol consumption, partying and in typical Roman sensibility, numerous orgies.

When the new Christian faith gained and consolidated its power in the Roman Empire, the Saturnalia became an obvious target for expulsion from the public psyche. But extinguishing the beloved holiday proved more difficult than the new pious power elite in Rome were prepared to handle. Perhaps for the first time in history, the new Christian leadership of Rome exercised what is now considered to be a common bit of folk wisdom: When in Rome, do as the Romans. The leaders couldn’t do away with the Saturnalia, so they attempted a new strategy: They modified the holiday and wrapped it in more suitably Christian sensibilities.

Many of our modern traditions associated with Christmas can be traced directly to the Saturnalia; Christmas cards, baked goods, gift exchanges, decorating trees and homes with lights, songs and parties and more. Gone, sadly, are the traditions of wild alcohol and accompanying orgies. But we haven’t entirely given up on those either. We just postponed those for a week and tied them to the tradition of the new year. I explain that bizarre observation of the beginning of the new year in another essay here, but its traditions are also deeply rooted in the Saturnalia.

So, is anyone REALLY attempting to destroy Christmas, as the strange claims now suggest? Put simply, No. Perhaps it would have been just as easy to note that at the outset, but I rather enjoy writing and explaining. Christmas is really nothing more or less than the celebration of the winter solstice, even if we attempt to provide it with some more sublime wrapping. If Christianity, and all other religious observation were to disappear from the planet tomorrow, I am pretty confident that Christmas would survive its passing.

Incidentally, if you refuse to pull the stick out of your ass and want to get offended when someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” this time of year, try to chill out a little. By my count, there are some 47 holidays, religious, secular and historical that are celebrated during the month of December alone around the planet, and that doesn’t include the ones like “Festivus” that were created in fiction or media. If you consider the start of the holiday season to begin at Halloween, toss in about a dozen more. So the “Happy Holidays” greeting is far friendlier, inclusive and appropriate, in my view.
Long on Fiction, Short on Science: Deconstructing Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park
Posted:Nov 17, 2019 6:32 am
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

I will admit at the outset: I was a big fan of Michael Crichton's original Jurassic Park book. It was a page turner and an entertaining piece of science fiction. When the movie came out later in the 90's, I was equally thrilled. As a popcorn munching, leave your brains in the parking lot piece of Hollywood sci-fi, it was a nice afternoon of entertainment. But make no mistake about it: Like all of Crichton's work, it is very long on fiction and short on science.

Some years later, Crichton wrote another piece of sci-fi entitled State of Fear, which made him the darling of radical right wing climate change deniers. In fact, it has practically become their bible on the subject, as several errant points of the book are still frequently quoted them as relevant objections. Real climate scientists addressed his numerous errors at length and thoroughly destroyed every single one. That is no small task. A comprehensive review of all the errors and the detailed refutations requires a book considerably longer than State of Fear itself. I did an abbreviated article on the matter myself, published in a different medium. If I owned the rights to the piece I would reproduce it here. Alas, I don't. Perhaps at some point I will write a different one for this venue. For now, I will entertain myself (and I dearly hope, all of you as well) addressing a different sacred cow, pointing out just how errant Crichton's work typically is. Suffice it to say, for now, that one climate scientist quipped in a review of State of Fear that no work of entertainment has been so fraught with errors since Ed Wood Jr. stopped making movies.

The work which I will address, as I have already hinted, is the much beloved book and film, Jurassic Park. It should be noted that some of the points I will make here were unique to the film and not errors Crichton made in the book. Some were common to both. I will try to differentiate errors specific to the film where my memory permits. Any errors in this regard are my own responsibility. However, it can not be forgotten that Crichton had a major role in consultation on both the script and production of the film itself, so Steven Spielberg can not be held solely responsible for the errors unique to the movie.

The best place to start might well be at the very beginning. The title of the book and movie is wildly inaccurate. Given that a huge part of the plot of both book and film centers around the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptors, with a more plot point centered on a Triceratops, it can not be overlooked that all these species lived entirely in the latter or very late Cretaceous, not the Jurassic Period. The book, film and park itself might well have better been named Cretaceous Park. I suppose we can concede that Brachiosaurs, which played a rather role in the film and a dilophosaur, which was part of a more involved subplot, did live in the Jurassic. But on the weight of things, the title becomes a problem. Nitpicking? Maybe, but remember we are discussing scientific accuracy here.

Time lines present a problem frequently in both the movie and the film. We can't overlook the fact that all of the amber ever mined in the Domincan Republic, which is where it came from in the movie (the book isn't too clear on this point), isn't old enough to satisfy Crichton's requirement. The amber from Costa Rica or even the larger and more productive mines of the Dominican Republic date back to the Eocene Epoch which began about 56 million years ago. that time, all the late Cretaceous dinosaurs had been gone for most of 10 million years and the Jurassic dinosaurs had been gone for 90 million years. That is just the beginning of the problems with Crichton's method for bringing back the dinosaurs in the first place.

Crichton, who was trained as a medical doctor, seems to imagine that it is possible to extract liquid blood from the mosquitos that were trapped in amber. That simply isn't possible. The amber coating preserves the body of the insect quite well, but not only would any blood in its body completely dry out, the DNA of the victim would degenerate rather quickly. That is to assume that there would even be any DNA to recover, since red blood cells are manufactured in the bone marrow and are not the product of cellular mitosis. Therefore, any blood recovered would contain little, if any dinosaur DNA. Assuming it would be possible to extract any viable DNA the process Crichton proposed, it would most likely be the DNA of the mosquito itself, not any species of Dinosauria. Somehow, I doubt that John Hammond would have attracted many people to visit Eocene Park, where they would delight to being bitten cloned, 55 million year old mosquitos.

Of course, that isn't really the biggest problem. Even if a viable strand of DNA could be extracted from the amber encased insect, it would be impossible to know exactly kind of what you have. Is it really dino DNA or mosqutio or some virulent bacteria you are about to unleash on the world after being dormant for millions of years? Assuming it was dino DNA, the cloning process would require that you implant the DNA into the egg of a similar species. Those are just a little difficult to come these days. So, I think the entire process has to be dispatched to complete suspension of disbelief.

This brings me to mention one of the greatest mysteries of the story. At one point, paleobotanist Ellie Sadler is examining some of the revived, ancient fauna of the park and even offers the observation that some of them are poisonous. The question quickly becomes, just how did they manage to bring the Jurassic/Cretaceous plants back from extinction? Pollen preserved in amber would not be viable and Crichton never offered an alternate explanation. Perhaps John Hammond employed Harry Potter's magic wand.

Speaking of fauna, it might be useful to note a problem that was unique to the film. Most of the footage employing Brachiosaurs was shot in Hawaii where gum trees are common. The film presented the Brachiosaurs casually munching on the leaves of gum trees, which are extremely toxic to contemporary life forms and most likely wouldn't have been suitable for a Jurassic Period animal either. The film also depicts the Brachiosaurs chewing the leaves moving their jaws side to side. But their jaws were only capable of up-down mobility, so that would have been impossible.

Early in the film we also see a Brachiosaur stand on its hind legs to reach higher into a tree. This was another impossibility. The center of gravity of the animal was too far forward and its forelegs were not sufficiently strong to withstand the force of the landing. Any attempt at this action a real Brachiosaur would have resulted in a full blown, dinosaur sized catastrophe. In the book a young animal performs a similar feat, but the result would have been tragically the same. Interestingly enough, there is evidence from tracks found in Colorado a few years ago that another species of sauropods, Apatosaurs, were capable of running short distances on their hind legs much like basilisk lizards. In all likleyhood, only young the were capable of this and likely only did it when in danger.

There is also a scene, unique to the movie, in which a Brachiosaur sneezes, drenching the young girl in disgusting dino snot. It is an amusing tension breaker, but another anatomical impossibility. Mammals are the only that have evolved the proper respiratory muscles necessary for sneezing. Reptiles and, more aptly, birds are simply not capable of doing it. But I would also present a side note that is a rather difficult issue in both the book and movie. Evidently, the oldest dinosaurs in the park were about 3 years old. That makes it unlikely that any full grown of any species would have been roaming around the park. It probably took a Brachiosaur a couple of decades to reach its full adult size at the very least, and T-Rex a similar span of time.

A curious inconsistency between the book and film involves the dilophosaurs, which Crichton portrayed fairly accurately in the book, but the presentation of the animal in the film was wildly fanciful. First of all, the film understated the size of the animal considerably. The real animal grew to about 20 feet from the nose to the tip of the tail and there is no evidence of the head flaps presented in the film. Nor was it venomous. Nature has generated a host of venomous reptiles, but not a single venomous bird, so far, and there isn't much evidence of venomous dinos. The only dinosaur for which there is a hint of venomous characteristics is the sinornithosaurus and while the evidence is interesting, the matter is still hotly debated among paleontologists. Dilophosaurs were sufficiently frightening in their own right, given their awesome size and capability to run impressively fast. You wouldn't want to run into one with anything less than armored support to protect you.

The relationship between birds and dinosaurs suggests another serious problem which defines a critical plot point in both the book and the film. It was stated that in order to fill in gaps in DNA sequencing, the genetic engineers at Jurassic Park used frog DNA. This was necessary in order to give the dinosaurs sex change capabilities for purposes of the plot. But frog DNA would have been an exceptionally poor choice for this purpose. In fact, from a taxonomical standpoint, the Jurassic Park scientists would have been better off using human DNA, given that dinosaurs were more closely related to mammals than amphibians.

But if they really wanted to get things right, avian DNA would have been ideal. We now know that birds are the very direct descendants of dinosaurs and a rather unsettling fact that has been teased from what little T-Rex DNA that has been recovered suggests that the long gone T Rex's closest living relatives are, and this kind of sucks, common chickens. So next time you sit down to a Sunday afternoon roast chicken dinner, take comfort that you are exacting revenge for the humans that gave their lives to the ferocious predator in the Jurassic Park movies. Since there are no birds with sex change capabilities, Crichton resorted to a bit of story telling slight of hand that very probably would have resulted in a ridiculous, Frankenstein hybrid of a creature that probably wouldn't have looked much like a dinosaur and wouldn't have lived more than a few minutes.

Speaking of T Rex, the film depicts ground shaking as the creature approached. I believe the book mentioned something similar. If you are a large predator, this is a pretty good way to end up starving to death. A predator needs to be able to maintain a degree of stealth in its approach, then strike quickly. An animal that reveals its presence well in advance of its attack is going to be a very one.

There was also a suggestion in the book and movie that T Rex's vision was based on movement and it couldn't see you if you remained still. There are reptiles with motion based vision, but they typically don't rely on sight to detect prey. Usually, they are more keyed sense of smell and or heat detection capabilities. There are no birds with similar vision limitations, but even if this were true of the Rex, if it was close enough to you to get your scent, your new name is "lunch." This whole matter was a huge fail on Crichton's part.

One of the amusing passages in the movie which was lifted directly from a similar scenario in the book involved an ailing Triceratops. Ian Malcom made a snide joke about the large pile of Triceratops droppings. In the book, the size of the pile is left to the reader's imagination, but the movie portrays a pile way too large, probably even for an enormous sauropod. The Triceratops was ill and the reason was a mystery to the examining scientists. For anyone in the real world, the matter was pretty obvious.

Ellie Sadler and the Jurassic Park resident veteranarian needed to look no further than the native, contemporary grasses upon which the ailing Triceratops was feeding. Grasses and most other vegetation in our time has considerably more cellulose and silica than a Cretaceous animal would have encountered. Since its digestive system would not have been evolved to deal with the chemical differences, it would be little wonder that the animal would suffer a tummy ache that would probably prove fatal in the near term. So Jurassic Park would quickly be littered with the bodies of Gum Tree poisoned Brachiosaurs and Tricertops that would die from whatever they ate.

Digestive issues aren't the only challenge our Jurassic Park dinosaurs would face in attempting to adapt to a world where 65 million years (or considerably more in the case of the actual Jurassic dinos) would have passed. Earth's atmosphere in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods was somewhat poorer in nitrogen and considerably richer in both CO2 and oxygen. The higher levels of CO2 naturally led to considerably warmer temperatures and higher sea levels, a condition we have been recklessly attempting to recreate on the planet for the last century and a half with little regard for the consequences.

Oxygen concentrations in Earth's atmosphere rose steadily through the Jurassic and peaked at a level about 50% higher than present in the Cretaceous. It was this abundance of O2 in the atmosphere that permitted to grow to such enormous sizes. Our poor revived dinosaurs would experience a state of apoxia considerably more serious than sea level dwelling travelers experience when they fly to Denver, then drive to the top of ,000 ft. Mt. Evans. In fact, it is only slightly less of a problem than a sea level resident would experience if suddenly being transported to the top of Mt. Everest without benefit of an oxygen tank. Most of our poor dinosaurs would probably drop dead from oxygen deprivation moments after they were born.

Since Velociraptors were the stars of both the book and movie, I would be remiss not to point out a of serious errors in the portrayal of the principle dinosaur antagonist. The first problem is that the size of the creature is wildly overstated in both the book and the movie. True velociraptors were about the size of modern turkeys and it would probably require several of them to even pose a serious threat to a small .

The Velociraptor was covered with feathers like a bird, as very probably, was the T-Rex. The raptors hands were not pronated as they were portrayed in the movie and book, but rather were virtually indistinquishable from wings. The Velociraptor almost certainly couldn't fly, but its physical form was very similar to modern birds. They weren't anywhere near as intelligent as Crichton portrayed them either. If you wanted to make a bet on what was the smartest of all known dinosaurs, the Trodon is a much better bet than any of the raptor line. It had far the most impressive brain size to body size ratio of any member of the dinosaur clade. That includes the Utahraptor, which was about the size of the animal Crichton describes and was discovered while the film was in production. However, even its brain to body ration was considerably inferior to Troodon.

There are literally dozens of other mistakes we can point out from the book, some common to both book and movie. However, the point should be sufficiently addressed. Despite Crichton's scientific training, he made no special efforts in any of his books to portray scientific knowledge faithfully or even accurately. That said, I could very well write a piece equally long on matters that Jurassic Park (book and movie) got right. But that really isn't the issue. It is easy enough to make a small and even lazy level of research that will make a science fiction story plausible enough to credulous readers who typically demand less accuracy than nitpicking scientists. But one should never confuse an enjoyable story with slavish adherence to the facts. In reality, the 2 are almost never bedmates and in the case of Crichton's works, fun as some of them are, we can drop the word "almost" from the sentence.

ADDENDUM: Oxygen levels reached a very peak at the end of the Permian, then crashed very suddenly. This correlates very directly to mass extinction that wiped out about 90% of all species on the planet, including about 95% of all sea life. Only about a third of large land species survived. Geologists note a "coal gap" at this boundry, a clear marker that plant life was very nearly wiped out entirely. The mass extinction had a variety of causes, but the sudden decline of plants, especially trees and animal life radically altered the composition of the atmosphere. One of the causes of the extinction was a dramatic rise in CO2 late in the Permian which led to a rise in ocean acidification, which had a devastating effect on a of critical microorganisms and plankton. This is a cautionary note for those who believe that 7 billion humans don't have much effect on the planet.
Climate Change Denial and the Distortion of Data: Is the Entire Solar System Warming"
Posted:Sep 5, 2019 2:32 pm
Last Updated:Aug 19, 2022 3:21 am

The deniers of human caused global climate change continue to advance a great of arguments that have long since been discredited. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to properly rebut their arguments simply because even they never really seem to know what position they are taking today. The argument de jour might be that humans are not responsible for climate change at all, because the climate is always changing. Tomorrow it will be that things are getting warmer, but we aren't responsible. A day later, they are suggesting that things are getting warmer and maybe we are responsible, but there is nothing we can do about it. One day later, ok, it is getting warmer and we are responsible, but that is probably a good thing on the whole; rinse and repeat.

They are correct about one thing: Yes, climate is dynamic, but climate changes slowly over the eons for many reasons.Those changes are measured slowly over millenia, not decades. Rapid changes can and have occured, but not without a clear catalyst. We are witnessing that now and as Pogo once wryly observed, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." The argument often used by deniers, that climate is always changing, is not a compelling rebuttal to the fact that we are the force behind rapid changes we are seeing now.

There is one particular argument I will address today, which is the notion that changes observed on our planet over the past century are, in fact, evident all over the solar system. If in fact that were true, it would be rather easy to pinpoint the common denominator for all the observed changes. The only body in the solar system that affects every other body significantly is, of course the sun. Demonstrate in an unambigious fashion that there has been a significant change in solar output over the past century or so, combined with measurable effects throughout the system and the argument is clearly compelling.

Unfortunately for deniers, their claim fails spectacularly on both counts. Our solar system is comprised of 8 planets, 5 dwarf planets, 181 known moons, 0 planets with a semi-major axis of 89 km or greater, over half a million smaller asteroids and in excess of 3000 comets permanently in the sun's orbit.

The deniers pin their argument on exactly 5 other bodies in the solar system with some observed pattern of warming temperatures and even those claims are somewhere between dubious and completely unsupportable. Even if the claims they made were on solid footing, it would be a reasonable question to ask how viable patterns that can be reliably linked to just over 1% of the reasonably sized bodies in the solar system really are. But as I shall demonstrate, the worlds that they cite in their arguments don't support their claims. Let's take a look at each of the claims in turn.

Mars: The claim generally offered that Mars is warming is based on, and yes, this is absolutely true, 2 photos. One of them was taken in 1977, the other in 1999. The two photos did clearly demonstrate a marked change in the albedo of Mars, for those not familiar with the term, that is the amount of light reflected back into space from the surface. The overall albedo at the surface did seem to drop substantially over the 22 year period, indicating that Mars was radiating more light and therefore probably all solar wavelengths of radiation into space in the earlier image than the later, suggesting a pattern of warming on the planet's surface.

There is just one problem with this claim. The 1977 image was taken by one of the Viking orbiters and was returned in the wake of a very large (even by Mars standards) global dust storm. Those events tend to brighten the surface as fine particulates settle back over most of the surface of the planet. By contrast, the 1999 image was taken just weeks prior to the onset of the typical 3 year storm cycle on Mars (as measured on Martian years. That translates to about 5.5 years Earth time.) In other words, one of the images was returned at a time when the surface reflectivity of Mars would naturally be expected to be at its peak, while the other was returned at a time when Mars would appear darkest.

For the most of the past 2 decades, we have had an armada of orbiters around Mars and rovers on the surface. They have returned a constant stream data providing more information about another world in the solar system than we have ever obtained, with the exception of our own world and our moon. Based upon the sum total of all the information we have received from Mars, there is exactly zero indication that there are significant, short term climate changes occuring on the planet. Bear in mind that this is important, since Mars ranks among the planets in our solar system most effected by solar output.

Neptune and Triton: Changes in reflectivity on Triton and Neptune, derived from comparison of the images returned by Voyager 2 and more recent ones obtained by Hubble seem to be indicating a pattern of warming in the Neptune system. The problem is, this is a case of clever cherry picking by the deniers. The observed changes really are occuring, but only in the southern hemisphere of the 2 worlds, which can be easily explained by normal seasonal variations. Owing to Neptune's 4 year orbital cycle, the southern hemisphere has transitioned to the early summer season. It would be somewhat surprising if these changes weren't occuring, but trying to draw conclusions based on data covering only about 20% of Neptune's seasonal cyle is pretty remarkable.

Pluto: Based on two observations of Pluto made by Earth based instruments in 1988 and 2002, deniers have suggested a pattern of warming there. This is pretty remarkable, given that the exact size of Pluto wasn't really settled until the 90's and a fairly significant revision was made in light of data returned by New Horizons. Pluto has an orbital period of 248 years and its highly eccentric orbit brought it inside the orbit of Neptune around the time the first measurement was taken. Seasonal lag could probably account for the observed variations in the 2002 readings, but given that solar radiation is 900 times weaker at Pluto than the Earth, it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that what is going on there is strongly dependent on solar output. New Horizons brought us a wealth of data about Pluto, but it has turned out to be a world considerably more interesting and complex than we ever imagined. The simple fact is, even Pluto experts have more questions than answers about the former planet at the moment. I wouldn't place much stock in claims made by anyone about what is, or is not going on there made by people who know next to nothing about this incredible little world.

Jupiter: Over a decade's worth of data returned by the Galileo spacecraft in the late 80's and 90's don't support any claims of warming in the Jovian system, but deniers still harp on one discredited argument. Predictions of merging storms in the Jovian atmosphere would increase heat output near the planet's equator with accompanying cooling near the poles. Nothing of the sort has actually occurred, so the data the deniers are relying upon here is worthless. But it is irrelevant at a more fundamental level anyway. Jupiter actually radiates away more energy than it receives from the sun, so when we observe Jupiter, almost everything we are watching is the product of internal forces, not anything going on as the result of solar input. This is clearly a case where the deniers need to significantly improve their understanding of how the solar system really works.

There are some other serious problems the deniers refuse to acknowledge. For example, the Messenger spacecraft that made a long term study of Mercury showed no significant, solar driven variations on the planet nearest the sun. The Magellan spacecraft, which studied Venus in the late 80's through most of the 90's similarly showed no warming pattern there. The Cassini spacecraft, which has been exploring the Saturn system for the past decade has shown no evidence of warming there, beyond the predictable seasonal variations. There are also indications of a general cooling pattern at Uranus. But given its extreme axial tilt, it has extreme seasons and data correlation is problematic.

But having specifically explored the cases where claims are made for evidence of solar system warming based on variations on solar output, it becomes reasonable to ask a simple question. Does data gathered from solar studies provide any evidence that there actually has been an increase in solar output? The simple answer is, no. Over a period from about 1880 to 1960, there was a slight increase in solar output, generating about a 0.3% increase in overall solar variation. Since 1960, the trend has been downward returning to a level only very slightly higher than the 1880 levels. In other words, as annual temperatures on the planet have been consistently increasing over the past decade and a half, activity on the sun has been heading in the opposite direction as indicated by the 3 images below.

There is an old saying in regard to statistical analysis that figures don't lie, but liars figure. Climate change deniers are the poster for this charge. By selectively offering information that represents a fraction of a bigger picture or is even outdated, they present a case for a preconceived argument. A closer examination of reality destroys the arguments in force.
1941: The Greatest Season in Major League Baseball History
Posted:Aug 24, 2019 8:23 pm
Last Updated:May 9, 2020 8:08 pm

the summer of, most of the world was at war. Nervous Americans watched the planet burn around them, probably realizing it was just a matter of time before they would be dragged into the conflict. But it was the most enduring of American sports institutions provided a few months of amazing entertainment relief before the inevitable happened. The baseball season unfolded was remarkable and unprecedented. A reclusive young ballplayer established the most remarkable record in all of professional sports. A brash young outfielder achieved a statistical accomplishment had been a rarity prior and hasn’t been matched since. And of the most hapless franchises in major league baseball suddenly rose up give their long suffering fans a summer of glory.

The reclusive young player was Joe DiMaggio, the center fielder for the New York Yankees. On May fifteenth , the Yankees were preparing for their th game of the season. DiMaggio was off a good start, He went into the game batting .4, having safely recording a basehit in of the 29 previous games. It wouldn’t be a particularly memorable day for either the Yankees or DiMaggio. He went 1 for 4 and his average dropped 2 points. The Yankees got hammered thirteen to one the Chicago White Sox, with DiMaggio driving in the only run for the Yankees. No realized at the time this would be the quiet beginning of the most incredible hitting streak in Major League baseball history.

May 24, it was clear DiMaggio’s bat was heating up. day, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 7-6. DiMaggio went 1 for 4, but he drove in 2 runs for New York and recorded a basehir in his 10th consecutive game. His batting average stood at a very respectable .three eighteen. It would continue climb as the hitting streak grew longer.

The Yankees lost again on June 3 to the Detroit Tigers. Once again, DiMaggio didn’t have a particularly remarkable day at the plate, but he did get one hit in 4 plate appearances, driving in one of the 2 runs the Yankees would score in the loss. It marked the 20th consecutive game in which he managed a base and his batting average had ballooned to .3.

June th wasn’t a particularly good day for the Yankees or DiMaggio either. The team lost the White Sox 8-7 and Joltin’ Joe had one hit in 4 appearances. Now it was the th consecutive game he recorded a base hir . The nation was starting take notice of the streak. His batting average stood at .336.

On July 1, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 7-2. DiMaggio went 2 for 4 and the streak now stood at 40 games. His average had soared to .351 and Joe was approaching the all time streaks set Wee Willie Keeler. Keeler recorded a base hit in the final game of the season, then in 44 consecutive games begin the season, establishing the longest single season streak in MLB history at 44 games and the longest streak, 45 games. DiMaggio tied the single season streak on July 6, when he went 4 for 5 in a Yankee win over the Philadelphia Athletics. He broke the single season record and tied the all time record the same day during the second game of a double header. Joe went 2 for 4 in another Yankee win. Two days later, Joe DiMaggio recorded another basehit in the MLB All Star Game. But wouldn’t count in the record books.

When the All Star break ended, DiMaggio started back up where he left off, picking up hits in 2 plate appearances against the St. Louis Browns and breaking Keeler’s all time record. His average stood at .358. On July against the Cleveland Indians, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in his 56th consecutive game. He recorded 3 hits in 4 plate appearances day, and his average climbed to .375. It all came an end the following day when DiMaggio went 0 for 3 against the Indians. “I lost thousand dollars today,” he confided to a team mate. “The Heinz 57 company has been following streak, and if I had gotten a basehit today, they would have givem me the .” The streak was over at 56. In 78 Pete Rose tied Keeler’s 44 game streak. No has come any closer to DiMaggio’s record in 78 years. It is considered the most unbreakable record in professional sports.

The day after the streak ended, DiMaggio began a new one . ended after games, but remarkably, he had hit safely in 72 of 73 games. It should come as no surprise DiMaggio also holds the second longest hitting streak in league history, at 61 games. But over the course of DiMaggio’s remarkable 56 game run, he recorded a total of 91 hits, including thirteen doubles, 7 triples and home runs.

Later in the season, Joe DiMaggio’s batting average would peak at .381. was outstanding, but well short of an even better batting performance was being assembled Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. Williams was a cocky young outfielder, neither popular with the fans whom he didn’t particularly like, or the press he often shunned. He was charitably described as average in the field with a good arm and great speed, but his love in the game was batting. He studied the subject, crafted his own bats and his fellow outfielders complained hitting was all he cared about.

Williams obsession with hitting produced an achievement in 41 rivaled the accomplishment of DiMaggio in New York. He got off to a red hot start on the season, batting .389 in the month of April. the end of May, his average swelled to an incredible .429 and it remained at .404 at the end of June. In July, he was able push it up slightly .409 and it held at .407 the end of August. With a month left in the season, it was clear Williams had a real chance of joining a small club of men had .400 for the season, something not accomplished in the majors since Terry of the Giants batted .401 in . The great Ty Cobb had achieved the mark 3 times.

Williams slumped a bit the final week of the season and his average dipped .39955 on September 27, which rounded .400. Some fans and writers suggested Williams sit the final 2 games, a double header on the 28th. Williams would have none of it. He was not satisfied with the mathematically below .400 mark and when his manager offered let him sit, he replied if he couldn’t .400 for the entire season, he didn’t deserve it. In the double header to close the season, Williams recorded 6 hits in 8 plate appearances against the Philadelphia Athletics boosting his average .406. No has topped or even reached the .400 mark since.

The outstanding batting performance turned in Williams in 41 didn’t impact his Red Sox club the way DiMaggio’s benefited the Yankees. New York cruised the AL pennant, games ahead of the second place Red Sox. Something remarkable, however, was happening in the National League. The Brooklyn Dodgers, perennial last place dwellers for 2 decades, were in the pennant race.

In 38, the Dodgers hired a brilliant but hard drinking man the name of Lee McPhail as their general manager. McPhail employed a variety of gimmicks to boost the sagging attendance of the hapless Dodgers, hiring Babe Ruth as the team’s first base coach for the ‘38 season. It was Ruth’s only coaching job in his career. He installed lights at Ebbbets Field, permitting night games to be played there for the first time. McPhail also began stocking the team with cast offs and talented young players, guiding the team to an unusual third place finish in 39. In 40, the Dodgers’ fortunes continued to rise as the team finished second.

The 41 season brought the borrough of Brooklyn their first pennant since 20. Led a talented roster of rookie players and cast off veterans the team won 100 games and edged the St. Louis Cardinals two and a half games. set up a subway series with the powerful Yankees.

The pivotal moment of the 41 World Series came in game 4. With the Yankees up 2 games to 1, the Dodgers had a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth with 2 outs and nobody on base. Pitcher Hugh Casey had 2 strikes on Yankee hitter Tommy Heinrich, and was one strike away from tying the series. Casey delivered the pitch for strike 3, but the ball bounced off of the Dodger catcher Mickey Owen’s mitt, permitting Heinrich safely reach first base. The Yankees rallied for 4 runs in the inning and held the Dodgers scoreless in the bottom of the ninth , winninh the game 7-4 and securing a 3 to 1 lead in the series. The Yankees won easily in game 5 and claimed the World Series championship.

Dodgers General Manager McPhail got so drunk after the loss he threatened to off all of his players to St. Louis. Angered, the Dodgers owners fired McPhail. In his place, they hired an innovative general manager from. ironically, the St. Louis Cardinals. His name was Branch Rickey. Rickey had already instituted a of creative changes in the game, including placement of numbers on player uniforms so fans could more easily identify them and he invented the farm system. He would change the game more profoundly in 46 when he hired a talented shortstop from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and assigned him to with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers top farm team. A year later, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson would become the first African American player to compete in the Major League baseball in the modern era.

Two months and two days after the New York Yankees wrapped up arguably the greatest season in the history of Major League baseball, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States of America was finally dragged into World War II.

To link to this blog (saturn1019) use [blog saturn1019] in your messages.

  saturn1019 62M
62 M
June 2021
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat